[OhQP-mail] Working a "seldom activated" county

Hank Greeb n8xx at arrl.org
Sun Oct 30 22:07:34 EDT 2011

Want some wallpaper?  Want to be a "wanted" station, sometimes (almost) 
akin to being the DX end of a DXpedition to a rare country?  Well, it's 
quite easy.  Look at the records page of the Ohio QSO party 
(http://www.ohqp.org/operatingOh.htm), or a similar page of the Michigan 
QSO party http://www.miqp.org/Records.htm, note which county or counties 
near you have low or no records for your favorite category.

I've activated four very rare counties in the past two years.  Two of 
them were in Michigan (NEWAgo 2010, MECOsta 2011).  The two in Michigan 
were because they're very near KENT county, in which I live.  The two in 
Ohio were HENRy in 2010 (guess why I chose to operate from there) and 
BROWn in 2011 (Expeditions to which I had organized for several years in 
a row prior to moving the Michigan, but which hadn't been activated as a 
fixed station since 2004.)  Another reason for BROWn was that our son 
lives near Mason, so it's just a jump, hop, a skip from his place to the 
BROWn county site.  In each case I set a new record for QRP operation.  
In 2010 OHQP I was fortunate enough not to have a "high profile, gung 
ho, contester" in the QRP category so I won a nice plaque.  In Michigan 
it's almost impossible to knock off the two "big guns" who choose to 
operate QRP, but I have wallpaper for each of these efforts.  Ohio 2011 
is yet to be scored - so time will tell.

Besides collecting trophies and wallpaper, there's a PR aspect also.   
Contact of government officials is generally a must, if you wish to 
operate in a public place after dark.  But, ham radio has a favorable 
image in most areas of Ohio and Michigan, so gaining permission is 
almost pro-forma.  But, if you're in a public area, it's very likely 
that people from the general public will drap by and you can do some 
explanation of ham radio to them.

There are challenges.  Operating even 30 miles or farther from home, in 
a rural area, means you MUST have a complete station.  Nothing is more 
discouraging than to get set up and not have "that connector" or the 
"proper wrench" for your setup.  "Making a list, and checking it twice" 
is not just a Christmas song - it's a must do prior to leaving home for 
the remote site.And, if AC power is not available, a reliable generator 
or deep cycle battery is required.  I made my reservation for a local 
generator a few weeks in advance, which was very useful, because a big 
flood,  in the Northeast caused a "run" on even small generators in the 
Cincinnati area!  One year my computer keying circuit didn't work when I 
arrived at the site, so I had to use my trusty J-38 key.

The one negative of operating in a "really rare" county is that you only 
have a few minutes to make contacts with a mobile, if, or when, that 
mobile makes it to your county.  A glitch in the tuner screwed me last 
year in HENRy county.  Last year the only mobile coming through BROWn 
county NEVER called CQ, at least while I was listening to his operation, 
so I didn't get a contact within the county.  Oh, well, c'est le guerre.

Why not try a "rare county expedition" next year?  It can be very rewarding.

73 de n8xx Hg

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